HISTORY OF SAILING AT NORTH HYKEHAM – 1958 TO 2016
This story is dedicated to Tony Bridle whose collection of Minutes and notes from the formation of the Lindum Sailing Club and, later, the formation of the Hykeham Sailing Club made this work possible. Tony was one of the few who made sailing possible in the Lincoln area. Sadly, he died but in his lifetime, he achieved a lot, he was a sailor, a gentleman and a damned good chap. The same sentiments go to all those early pioneers and those who followed them who strove to make the Hykeham Sailing Club the success that it is today and who encouraged the sport of dinghy racing in the Lincoln area.
Lying behind trees and situated between the A46 by-pass and the old Lincoln-Newark road is Apex Lake home to the Hykeham Sailing Club. It is so well hidden that many Hykeham residents do not even know it is there.
The Club was formed in 1985 but there was dinghy sailing taking place on the Lake long before then. It is not clear when sailing started in the Lincoln area but the large engineering company, Rustons Ltd, had an active sports club for the benefit of its employees and a part of this was a sailing club which was located on the river Trent at Torksey Lock.
At the same time,1958, the Ministry of Education was widening the school curriculum to encourage sport and the Local Education Authorities were given funding for this purpose. With the help of Mr Frank Mason of the RSC, three local teachers formed a schools sailing association to be known as the Lincoln and District Schools Sailing Association, but as this was a bit of a mouthful, it is now known as the Lincoln and District Sailing Association (LDSA) and was joined by, it is believed, twenty five local schools ranging across the County including the Robert Pattinson School. The other sailing group in the area was a section of the Lincoln Boat Club (LBC) which was formed in March 1958 and which sailed on the Brayford Pool in Lincoln. This was not an ideal location for dinghy racing.
During the 1950s when the nation was recovering from World War 2 dinghy sailing was becoming more available and popular and so the demand for water space was increasing. In 1959 a small group of LBC dinghy sailors, led by Messrs Maxwell, Sisson and Hunter, got together and made an approach to Hartsholme Gravel & Sand to ask whether there was a gravel pit that they could use. The Company’s partners were very encouraging, particularly Mr Leslie Best, and the sailors were offered one of the Swanholme Lakes near the Doddington Road, North Hykeham. So, in December of 1959 the Lindum Sailing Club was formed with a fleet of about 30 boats and the aim to promote the sport of dinghy racing. The fees were a 1 guinea (£1.05) joining fee, 3guinea (£3.15) annual subscription for a boat owner, 2 guinea (£2.10) subscription for a crew member and an extra 1 guinea (£1.05) to include the member’s family.
There were no facilities at Swanholme Lake and all sailing activities were carried out from the beach and cars used for changing of clothes and there was some doubt that the landlord would permit the construction of a clubhouse. Also, the lake was used by anglers and it was not very big and had some shallow places. Consequently, an approach was made to CAEC Howard Ltd who kindly offered them the use of the western water of Apex gravel pit and allowed them to develop an area on the north bank bordering Pike Drain for the club for a peppercorn rent of £10 a year. The LSC moved to the new location in 1961, see sketch map, fig. 3.
The story now starts to get interesting. Access to the bare LSC site on Apex Lake was along a very long and rough track from Crow Park Farm and there were no facilities or buildings on the site. Knowing this RSC suggested that the two Clubs should merge and LSC use their facilities. However, there was a sporting rivalry between Clubs and there was a difference in the views of the two Clubs as one, LSC, consisted of the ‘City’, namely the merchant and professional population and the other, RSC, was the ‘Works’, mainly engineering types. Thanking RSC for their generous offer the LSC considered the RSC boat park and car park to be too small to meet the needs of both Clubs and so the offer was declined. One result of this was that RSC forbade LSC to use their water on the larger east end of the lake and a border was drawn across the lake from the RSC bay on the south side to the tip of the promontory on the north side, see fig. 3. And so, the two Clubs developed their areas as each saw fit and only meet in open competition or social occasion.
As time went on CAEC Howard Ltd extended their dredging of the lake and RSC were asked to move their site to the north-eastern side of the lake. This was achieved by the members who managed to save two pre- fabricated bungalows from demolition and erect them on the new site to be the RSC clubhouse, see fig. 5. The boat park was carved out and a security fence erected. In this move, RSC could connect to the water trough for their water supply and brought with them their diesel generator to provide electric power,
In 1970 Apex Lake came under the management of Butterly Aggregates Ltd who continued to allow the clubs to use the lake but increased the annual rent to £150 a year. Excavation of the lake continued which in 1971 included the western end, which increased the size of LSC’s sailing water but removed the access road and so a quarry track was laid which gave shared access for both sailing clubs with the site entrance being by the public house, the Fox & Hounds. The benefit of this was that a water connection was made with the RSC junction. A small grant from the Foundation for Sports & Arts enabled LSC to build a toilet block with flushing loos and soak-away pits.
Both clubs continued their activities which were mainly dinghy racing and training in their respective parts of the lake and both clubs produced sailors who became national champions of their respective dinghy classes and achieved many successes in open events at other clubs in the country. All the while each were maintaining and developing their clubs. The major and perennial task was maintaining the one mile long track to their clubs.
The years following 1980 were a difficult time for LDSA as the government of the day considered that sports activities encouraged ‘elitism’ and discrimination and withdrew funding for LEA sports activities and so the LEA stopped their support of sailing. Other centres within the County were closed by the LEA, but through the enthusiasm and dedication of local teachers, club sailors and many the local schools, LDSA was able to continue as an independent organisation.
In 1984 Readi-Mix-Concrete Co (RMC) obtained the mining rights from Butterly Aggregates Ltd and reviewed the RSC and LSC leases and rents. The decision was that sailing could continue on Apex Lake but the annual rent for each club would be increased to £3,000. Such an amount was beyond each club’s resources so, finally, each agreed to disband and to merge to form a new club. Discussions took place to agree the distribution of resources such as the transfer of the diesel generator and any useful safety and committee boats and because of space constraints the LSC site was the chosen centre for the new club. Thus, the landlord would receive only one rent. In 1985 the Hykeham Sailing Club (HSC) was formed and invited LDSA to become an Affiliated member organisation of the Club and the same invitation was given to the RAF Waddington Sailing Club.
The old RSC site was abandoned and became near derelict until the mid-1990’s when the Hykeham Scout Group were looking for a site for their headquarters. On hearing of this, RMC offered the Group the use of the old RSC site for a small rent. This has now become an Activity Centre for water-sport activities for the Scouts who hold annual activity events and, every fourth year, the Lincolnshire Poacher Jamboree. It is a much-valued centre which offers the opportunity for local youngsters to learn practical skills in a very pleasant setting, see fig. 5.
Under the burgee of the HSC, dinghy racing continued to thrive on Apex Lake and its members continued to gather successes at open and National events. Class racing within the Club was for the Laser, Enterprise and Solo Classes and racing was also available to the Handicap fleet of mixed classes of boat. The Club also formed a Model Yacht Section for radio controlled model yachts. All the time the Club site and buildings needed care and attention. The maintenance of the old Clubhouse was as great a challenge as keeping the track in a usable state, also maintaining the water supply was a problem. Finally, in 1995, the Club was connected to mains electricity and about the same time a telephone line was laid and in 2004 the water was replaced to give a better flow. Some years later, with the help of the landlord and some grants, the Club was able to afford to have a section of the road surfaced with tarmac. However, a substantial length remained as a rough track to be repaired each year.
At some time in the early 2000’s Cemex Aggregates Ltd became owners of Apex Lake and reviewed the Club’s lease. By this time, the Clubhouse had become very dilapidated and difficult to maintain and part of the conditions of lease renewal was that the clubhouse be replaced. This resulted in a major fund-raising effort and by 2008 a new clubhouse was installed. In the meantime the Club waterfront and slipways were becoming more derelict and as the Olympics were being hosted in the UK, sport was being encouraged and so an application to Sport England produced a worthwhile grant which funded the development of the waterfront, Waterfront 1 and in 2012 work commenced and the waterfront was officially opened in 2013.
During the year it was accepted that the Club’s fence was beyond repair and a helpful grant enabled it to be replaced. Further money raising efforts and grant applications enabled the remaining stretch of the track to surface dressed in 2014. At the same time design work commenced to complete the protection of the remaining exposed sections of the waterfront, Waterfront 2, which, with the aid of a Biffa Award, the work was completed in 2015.
In 2009, Sailability, an organisation supported by the Royal Yachting Association and Sleaford Rotary, applied to become affiliated to the Club and was accepted. This organisation provides the opportunity for disabled people to participate in sailing. Sailability has grown in strength and 2013, being its Fifth Anniversary, hosted a visit by HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne. LDSA has become a Royal Yachting Association training establishment and offers sailing courses to adults as well as to the schools and it also provides sailing facilities to the University of Lincoln Sailing Club. By 2015 the Club also became recognised by the Royal Yachting Association as a training centre able to run official courses and award the RYA qualifications.
For many years, the Club had been the home for the Lincoln Radio Controlled Model Yacht Club but in 2013 more suitable waters for model yachts was found.
At the time of writing, Hykeham has been the home of local sailing for at least fifty-six years With Sailability, LDSA, the RAF, the Club members and their families, Hykeham Sailing Club provides the opportunity for 5-600 people to enjoy sailing, but not all at the same time. The present use of Apex Lake which now provides an area of water of some 149 acres (60.35 Ha). The success of the sport has been due to hard work and the dedication of generations of dinghy sailors who have been determined to promote their sport of dinghy racing and to look to its future by encouraging young sailors.